DAY 01 Tue . Apr . 25
Today we depart Raleigh airport for our overnight flight to Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, with a connection in Newark.
DAY 02 Wed . Apr . 26
PHILISTINE COUNTRY, NEGEV AND EILAT
Upon arrival to Ben Gurion Airport in the morning and after passport control and baggage claim we will meet our guide, board our bus and will drive from there southeast through the Philistine cities and starting with the area of Beth Shemesh and stop in the Valley of Elah, where David encountered Goliath. We continue through the Philistine country south into the Negev to view the stupendous wilderness of Zin, one of the major Israelite way stations en route to the Land of Canaan. We continue driving by Avdat, the city of Aretas the Nabatean who built up this city from a camel station. We continue south through the Negev down towards Eilat located on the northern shores of the Red Sea. We check in our hotel in Eilat for dinner and overnight.
DAY 03 Thu . Apr . 27
THE RIFT VALLEY AND THE DEAD SEA
After a leisurely breakfast and a panoramic tour of the city of Eilat we retrace our steps north through the Negev and stop at Timna Park 20 miles north of Eilat in the Arava Valley. It is a region of startling beauty, including ancient copper mines, odd rock formations, and the remains of a Midianite tent-sanctuary related to that of the exodus. We continue driving north heading towards the Dead Sea. We drive along the Western shores of the Dead Sea and stop at Masada. Here we take the cable car to the top, visiting Herod’s mountain bunker and the last stronghold of the Jewish revolt against Rome. We then drive to Ein Bokek where we check into our hotel along the shores of the Dead Sea. Here you can also have the opportunity to float or wade through the salty water of the Dead Sea or have a mud treatment and relax at minus 1390 feet, as low as you’re ever likely to get. Dinner and overnight at the Dead Sea hotel.
DAY 04 Fri . Apr . 28
THE JORDAN VALLEY AND THE SEA OF GALILEE
After breakfast, we continue driving north along the western shores of the Dead Sea. Our first stop will be at Ein Gedi and we enter the nature reserve, rich in flora and fauna, and walk to a lovely waterfall. Continuing north we stop at Qumran and the possible settlement of the first century sect known as the Essenes, the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls. We stop at Genesis Land nearby Qumran where we will experience a short camel ride. We continue driving north to Jericho where we visit the tell of this oldest city and view the traditional mountain of Jesus’ temptation. Driving through the Jordan Valley north to Beth Shean (aka Scythopolis), here we view the setting for the death of Saul. We will survey the magnificent Roman and Byzantine ruins: theatre, bathhouses, ancient rest rooms, market areas, colonnaded streets. We continue driving along the western shores of the Sea of Galilee and end our day at the newly discovered and exciting archeological site of the fishing Village of Magdala where we can see a first century synagogue typical of the various synagogues that dotted the Galilee region and where Christ would have first preached the gospel. This evening we’ll enjoy a memorable dinner at the nearby Magdalena Restaurant. Afterwards continue to the city of Tiberias and we check into our hotel in Tiberias for three overnights.
DAY 05 Sat . Apr . 29
A DAY ON THE SEA OF GALILEE
Drive up to the Mount of Beatitudes and hike down the hill to the lake and go to Tabgha where Christians have long remembered the first feeding of the multitude and nearby, the breakfast of John 21. Continue walking to nearby Capernaum where Franciscan archaeologists believe they have uncovered the house of Peter. Then drive the northern end of the Sea of Galilee heading east and stop at Beth Saida, which is the fishing village of the Gospels. This village was the hometown of Peter, Andrew, and Philip (John 1:44). Continue driving around the eastern shores of the Sea of Galilee heading south to Ein Gev where you can stop for a St. Peter’s Fish lunch. After lunch drive further south to Kursi in the “Gergesa” of Matthew’s Gospel where the evangelist locates the miracle of the swine. Then drive full circle around the lake and stop at a location where the Jordan River exits south from the Sea of Galilee and heads down the Jordan Valley. We end our day at the modern Baptismal spot at Yardenit. Here the group has the possibility of renewing the Baptismal vows before heading back to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 06 Sun . Apr . 30
THE SOURCES OF THE JORDAN
Ascend the Golan Heights today, the biblical Bashan and ancestral home of the half-tribe of Manassah and in Jesus’ day, part of the territory of Herod Philip. Drive along Israel’s border with Syria and stop at the Kuneitra overlook. Continue to Caesarea Philippi, now known as Banias. You’ll enjoy the natural beauty of Banias nestled on the flourishing banks of one the Jordan’s main tributaries. We end our day on the lake in a wooden boat modeled after one from Jesus’ time.
DAY 07 Mon . May . 01
THE JEZREEL AND THE COASTAL ROAD
We drive up to Nazareth. On the way we stop at Cana of the Galilee where Jesus performed his first sign (John 2), commemorating Jesus’ transformation of water into wine. We drive up to the Mt. of Precipice for a panoramic view of the Jezreel. We drive down to Nazareth and start our tour of the city of Jesus’ boyhood by stopping at Nazareth Village, a reconstructed first-century village that tells the story of the hometown of Jesus. Walk through the present-day bazaar, over the site of the ancient village, to the Church of the Annunciation. We then drive to the mound of Megiddo, har megiddo in Hebrew, which gave its name to Armageddon. We then ascend Mt. Carmel, site of Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal. From there we drive towards the Mediterranean coast and drive south along the coastal highway to Caesarea-by-the Sea. We enter Caesarea Maritima to explore this Roman bridgehead to the East, which became the Christian springboard to the West. After visiting this ancient harbor, and wading in the waters of the Mediterranean, we board our bus and head up the historic Beth Horon Road to the Benjamin Plateau, passing ancient Gibeon and continuing to Jerusalem. Finally, atop Mt. Scopus, we behold majestic Jerusalem! Three nights in Jerusalem.
DAY 8 Tue . May . 02
Today we will start on the Mt. of Olives with the Old City tilted toward us. After an orientation, we descend the traditional Palm Sunday Road to Dominus Flevit (“The Lord weeps”), remembering Jesus’ entry. We continue down to Gethsemane with a visit to the garden and the church where we will have some quiet time. We then drive to the church grounds called Peter in Gallicantu, which affords the best view of early Jerusalem from the west. Here, the Assumptionist Fathers propose, was the house where the High Priest Caiaphas interrogated Jesus. Driving south to the Bethlehem region passing Rachel’s Tomb on the outskirts of Bethlehem, we go to Shepherds’ Fields. We will have the opportunity to enjoy lunch at the Grotto Restaurant adjacent to the Shepherd’s Fields before we drive up to Bethlehem. We will walk through its alleys and markets to the Church of the Nativity. From there we drive back to West Jerusalem passing by the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament on our way to the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Israel Museum including the outdoor model of Jerusalem as the city may have looked in 66 AD.
DAY 9 Wed . May . 03
THE ARCHAEOLOGY OF JERUSALEM
First thing this morning, we drive around the Old City of Jerusalem Walls to Dung Gate. Just inside the Gate we take the time to examine the ruins near the south side of the Temple complex, which includes steps where you may be certain that Jesus taught, and He and his disciples walked. We then enter the Western Wall Tunnel that enables us to examine the length of the outer Herodian Temple wall -mostly preserved in mint condition - including two stone blocks each weighing about 600 tons. Spend some time walking around the Jewish Quarter. Walk along the Cardo, the ancient Roman road; View the Broad Wall. Exit Jerusalem by Dung Gate and continue walking along the path to the City of David. The tour starts with a 10 minute 3-D movie. It gives a visual timeline of the geography of the City of David from the original settlement to present day. Then descend into the ground to Hezekiah’s tunnel built somewhere near 700 B.C. . As part of the tour, you can do the 40-minute walk in knee-high water from the Gihon Spring to the Pool of Siloam. Return back to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
DAY 10 Thu . May . 04
IN AND AROUND THE OLD CITY / DEPARTURE
This morning we walk up to the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site. We view the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site of Islam, located on the traditional site of the ancient Temple Mount. Just to the north we find the Pools of Bethesda and St. Anne’s Church, which has remarkable acoustics, and which has been perfectly preserved from the Crusader period. We then follow the Way of the Cross (Via Dolorosa) back as far as the Holy Sepulcher. From there we walk through the Arab Souks, past the Armenian Quarter and exit the Old City through the Mt Zion Gate to visit the Upper Room and King David’s Tomb on the grounds of Mt. Zion. From there we take the bus to the Garden Tomb where we end our tour with a special visit and a private communion on its grounds. We then drive down the Judean Hills heading to the Mediterranean Coast and through the modern city of Tel Aviv. We then take a scenic route along the Mediterranean coast where we will stop on the way to Jaffa. Jaffa is the biblical Joppa considered to be the oldest port in the Biblical World. We walk through the Old City of Jaffa through the artist quarter. We will have our farewell dinner in Jaffa before we drive to the airport for our late evening check in for our flight home.
DAY 11 Fri . May . 05
Today we arrive back in the USA on our flight from Tel Aviv.